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The Stages of a DUI

DUI Attorney in Long Island

A DUI Case Starts the Moment You Are Arrested for Driving Under the Influence

When a person is arrested for a first offense DUI in New York, it can be a confusing time. There are a lot of things happening quickly, and it can be a frightening situation. Perhaps there is a job to protect, perhaps the person is worried what will happen to family obligations while he or she is sitting in a holding cell awaiting processing. In order to shed light on the whole process and give some clarity, we have prepared the following list of key stages of a DUI. These are pretty much the same whether you are charged with an actual DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) or the lesser traffic offense of Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI).

Probable Cause

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees all of us the basic right to be free from unlawful searches and seizures. This means that the government (i.e. police officers) does not get to randomly detain citizens and search them for evidence of crimes. Instead, the Fourth Amendment says, “but upon probable cause.” This means that an officer must have a reasonable belief or suspicion that you are breaking a law before he or she is allowed to pull you over. Of course, this is theoretical. In practice, the waters get muddier.

The Stop

Assuming the officer notices that you are swerving or speeding, the officer now likely has probable cause to pull you over and investigate further to determine why you were swerving or speeding. This is where the officer will gather evidence and make a decision whether to arrest you or not.

The Arrest

You have been arrested. An arrest is one of the greatest deprivations of basic rights a citizen can endure. It is the government stripping you of your fundamental liberty and freedom to move about. Therefore, it is supposed to be exercised in the strictest and most cautious manner possible. Unfortunately, police often are too zealous. Once you are arrested for DUI, the officer will detail you, may have your vehicle towed, and you will be taken to a central book facility.

Booking and Processing

You will have your fingerprints taken and be photographed to create a permanent record of the DUI arrest. Then you move into a holding cell until you can be brought before a judge for arraignment. The New York Times reports that the time between arrest and arraignment has improved and is roughly around 24 hours. Therefore, a person can expect to spend about a solid day in jail waiting to go before a judge to post bail and secure release, pending trial.


If you can afford it, you or a family member may be able to pay a bail bond company to secure your release from jail. A bondsman pays for your release, but you then must show up for all required hearings and the trial. The bondsman become a sort of super-creditor who can force you to attend court. Your body is literally collateral in the transaction.

Arraignment and Preliminary Hearing

Arraignment (sometimes called an initial appearance) is where a judge will meet you for the first time and determine whether you have or desire legal counsel and whether there was any merit to the arrest. The judge will ask you to make a plea. In other words, are you guilty or not? A preliminary hearing date is scheduled. Arraignment should take place within 72 hours of arrest. Sometimes issues of excess bail are raised here, as well.

If you plead not guilty to a felony, a preliminary hearing will be set. This is an important and strategic hearing. You should always have an attorney present, as this is where the prosecutor will present evidence of probable cause. Many cases are dismissed at this stage, when handled properly.

Speak to Our Long Island DUI Attorneys at 888-DUI-Lawyer Today

If your case proceeds through all of the stages, you will eventually be assigned a trial date. You and your DUI attorney will appear at the scheduled time, and the court will begin the process of selecting a jury to decide your case.

DUI arrests are complex and challenging at every stage. Having an experienced Long Island DUI Lawyer represent you in your case is the best way to protect your interests and make sure you do not make a mistake that could cost you thousands of dollars, or worse yet, your freedom. Call (888) DUI-LAWYER today to schedule a no-risk free consultation.

(c) Can Stock Photo / gajdamak

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© 2017 - 2019 888 DUI Lawyer, Richard S. Jaffe, ESQ., Partner, Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP. All rights reserved.
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